Monday, March 19, 2018

Skiing, Saddleback, a State Championship and a Final Four


Despite my busy basketball public address announcer schedule, I have been able to enjoy the "Miracle March" on the slopes of Maine. The snow quality this season through February had been hit or miss, but a couple of impressive March snow storms resulted in 50+" of new snow in the mountains of Maine resulting in some pretty incredible skiing. We had a great day skiing Sugarloaf March 11th.

We have been able to launch ourselves down the front face of Sugarloaf including skiing Bubble Cuffer Extension and Powder Keg trails for the first time. We are hoping a little more snow that is forecasted this week adds to the base even more and that the backside snowfields of Sugarloaf will be in-play this coming weekend. Sugarloaf has some pretty incredible terrain above the treeline, and the snow has made all the trails from beginner-green to expert double-black super-fun. They are now set up for a stellar late winter & spring. I have always said March is by far the best month to ski in Maine! The snow is usually deep and when it isn't snowing, the sun is shining higher in the sky. Can't beat it!


The Saddleback ownership situation continues to drag on. Majella  started out with best of intentions with their big announcement last June in regards to their future plans with the resort. However, the financing the deal has hit some snags. Occasionally a newspaper / TV story hits that creates a flurry of speculation and opinions on social networks, message boards, print and broadcast media. We are all just guessing at this point as all the parties involved are not talking much. It seems we are no closer to a final answer than we were last June.

I wrote a post back in June on the potential sale and I wrote we will have to be patient. I was thinking we were needing to be patient on getting the mountain open. It seems that we have to be patient just getting the sale done. Regardless, staying patient still holds true today and I will hope and pray this comes to a successful conclusion soon so we can ski a lift-serviced Saddleback again.

A State Championship...

As I mentioned in my last post about this public address announcing hobby of mine, I was able to be the PA announcer for the America East college women's basketball championship and Bowdoin College Women's Basketball 1st-2nd Round NCAA games (more on that later). I also was able to tick off a "bucket list" event in doing PA for a Maine State Championship basketball game for the first time. Outside of my microphone not working at the start of the boys game (it worked the entire girls game before - what gives!) I recovered and I was able to have a great experience. I hopefully made a positive impact on the game experience for the fans and most importantly the players.

The games were televised to a statewide audience on MPBN, and here is a video recording my myself doing the team introductions for Greely and Hampden Academy boys teams. It was a lot of fun!

And a Final Four...

And what a run for the Bowdoin College Women's basketball team in the NCAA Division 3 Women's Basketball Championship! I was on the PA for their first two NCAA home games (victories over Husson & FDU) which ushered them into the Sweet 16. A great crowd was on-hand at Morrell gym to cheer the team on to victory.

Then I watched them on-line from home as they traveled to Scranton, PA and beat Scranton on their home floor.  Then they defeated NESCAC rival Tufts to punch their ticket to the Final Four!!! What a moment!

What an awesome accomplishment for this team! The Final Four was in Rochester, Minnesota over this past weekend (March 16-17) and I was able to re-route my return from a west coast business trip to watch the team play. It was a really fun experience and the team parents, alumni & Bowdoin staff were very gracious for letting the PA guy for tag along for the Bowdoin receptions and final four events. It was good to get to know the parents off the court. They are a great group of people with some great kids!

In the national semi-final Bowdoin had a tall order. They were taking on undefeated Wartburg from Waverly, Iowa. (Little known fact is that I lived in Waverly Iowa for a year when I was 4 years old.) Waverly is only about a 1.5 hour drive to the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester and they brought an impressive number of fans filling up one side of the arena in bright orange. However, the Bowdoin women fed off this energy, played an exceptional game and ran Wartburg right out of the gym by a 90-62 score. It was a most impressive performance and it was safe to say I was excited for the victory.

Being a fan during a game is MUCH DIFFERENT than being on the PA. While doing PA I want my home team to do well and I might lean into the home team calls a bit more when they make a great play. However,  I am quite busy keeping track of the game action and making sure I do a professional job for both teams and fans in the gym. So I don't really get TOO excited. However, when I am "just" a fan... I can cheer as much as I want! It was great to experience to be a fan in a Final Four setting. I lost my voice at halftime due to cheering so much.

Bowdoin met NESCAC rival Amherst in the national championship game. It was close through three quarters, but in the end just not enough buckets fell through the hoop for the Polar Bears. What a 6 game NCAA run Bowdoin had. The players and Coach Shibles will have memories that they will cherish for a lifetime. Bowdoin seniors Kate Kerrigan, Lydia Caputi and Lauren Petit will be missed but a lot of great players are coming back too. The future is bright for Bowdoin basketball.

So I take the spring and summer off from PA duties but I am already looking forward to fall football starting up. I will be covering Freeport and Bowdoin football as usual, but new this fall I will be on the PA for the 4 of the 5 home games for the first year University of New England football program. Til then, golf, fishing and family camp time will fill up my spring and summer... after a few more ski trips this March, April and maybe even May! See you on the ski slopes and sporting fields of Maine!

A post shared by Michael Salisbury (@mainesportsfamily) on

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Reflections on the 2018 Maine High School Basketball Tournament

The whirlwind intensity and excitement of the Maine high school basketball tournament in Portland, Bangor and Augusta is over and regional champions have been crowned in all 5 classes. Now it is "just" the state championships left. I was the Public Address announcer for about a dozen games in the Portland tournament and played music for a handful more. I also got a bit of skiing in at Sugarloaf too. Unfortunately I had a minor hyper-extension of my knee when skiing last week so I am writing this blog instead of skiing on this Sunday morning. However, I feel 90% back which is good... but I just don't want to push it today.

It is a really fun week of basketball and here are a few reflections on the week.

As I wrote in my post describing my PA announcer journey, being the announcer for the Maine high school tournament games is an absolute thrill for me. I hope the players and the fans carry with them many positive memories from these games. Here is a short snippet of me calling out the starters at one of the games I did this week.

It takes many hands

Being part of the tournament PA team gives me a glimpse behind of the scenes of the many hands and hard work it takes to administer a tournament. While I sat at the scorers table along with the scorer, timekeeper and scoreboard operator, who spent many hours making sure the games themselves ran smoothly, there are many more people behind the scenes making sure things go well for the teams involved. Ticket takers, finance, locker room attendants, ball persons, media relations, awards and countless other tasks are done by many capable hands. A special thanks to Portland's site administrator Gerry Durgin who leads the crew and spends countless hours running the tournament. His steady leadership and focus on the kids is key and I think the tournament is very well run under his guidance. I also very much enjoyed working with my fellow Portland site PA announcers Rich Peterson and the legendary Peter Gribbin. The Bangor and Augusta sites have great crews working hard to run the tournaments as well. Job well done by all involved I say!

Media Members

A shout-out to the media members too. The reporters and writers from the local TV and newspapers as well as the radio and on-line broadcasters who were at all the games working hard to shine a bright light on the players on the court. A lot of words were written & spoken, tweets sent, footage edited and broadcasts given by these folks. Great job by all!

A special call out to The Forecaster's Michael Hoffer. He has a unique position where he is able to write long-form game stories for his publication. He wrote a lot of words this week and did a great job as always. I know the teams in his coverage area really appreciate his game stories.

Freeport Boys & Girls

It was a great tournament week by my hometown Falcons. The boys won their preliminary game against Lisbon and lead the eventual southern division champion Wells late in the 4th quarter of their quarterfinal game. It had been 10 years since the last time the Freeport boys made it to Portland and they represented themselves very well. Coach Ridge and the boys should be able to take the experience of this week and build on it for next year. The future of the boys program is bright.

And what a run by the Freeport girls reaching the regional championship game! After close and exciting wins over Wells and Poland, they showed tremendous desire against Lake Region but they just couldn't get the shots to fall in the second half. The Lake Region defense had a lot to do with that and congratulations to the Lakers on a well deserved regional title. The first time in 41 years a Freeport girls team had made it to the regional final. What a run! Coach Hart is building a great program and the future is bright.

Even though my own kids are now out of school, I am so pleased our town and RSU (Freeport, Pownal, Durham) is supporting our schools. We had a tremendous crowd in Portland for all the playoff games. The RSU has recently supported bonds to renovate the high school and athletic fields as well as supporting school operating budgets each year. I think we are seeing the result of this investment play out in the classroom and on the athletic field. There are a lot of options in southern Maine for education and associated athletics. It is important that the public schools systems compete and provide high quality academic and co-curricular options for all. Hats off and thanks to the RSU towns for their great support.

Game of the Week

Each tournament week has a fair share of lopsided games. However, I was extremely fortunate this year that just about all the games I was PA announcer for were highly competitive. If I had to pick one game that stood out for me it was the Biddeford vs Brunswick Boys A-South quarterfinal. Brunswick made a furious comeback from down 8 points with under three minutes left to tie it up late. However, Biddeford's Zach Reali grabbed a rebound and scored as time expired to give Biddeford the win. It was an extremely well played game and you can't beat the excitement of a winning basket as time expires. As PA, it is really fun to be part of these close contests and help add to the exciting atmosphere in the arena.

No Dunking?

There was quite an uproar on social and print media in regards to technical fouls being given for dunking. Not all dunks got T's in this tournament, but this one did:

This lead to an interesting article from Travis Lazarczyk calling this the "dumbest rule in Maine Hoops". My take? He is right. For one, the high school rule on "grasping the rim" is inconsistently enforced. Some refs call any little rim grab on a dunk a T. Other refs let it go. The kids have no idea what to do. Secondly, every high school gym has break-away rims. Dunks are an exciting part of the game. I see it all the time in the college games I do. Players should be able to dunk, snap the rim and get his team fired up. It is not show-boating... it is part of the game! Time for the state officiating body to take another look at how this rule is interpreted and clarify it with the officials for the good of the game.

Overall I thought the officiating was satisfactory for the tournament. There were some good calls and bad calls but it is part of the game. Players make and miss shots, make assists and give the ball away on turnovers. Coaches make good and bad coaching decisions. The teams in the state finals are the ones that successfully managed all facets of the game, including how each game is being called by the officiating crew.

What's Next

March is a great time to ski in Maine, so I am looking forward to getting back on the slopes and have my fingers crossed for more winter weather in the mountains. I should be able to get a skiing post or two on this blog in the coming weeks! I do have at least one more busy weekend of basketball left with two and possibly three events I will PA for.
  • Class A State High School Basketball Championships - On Thursday, March 1, I will be on the PA mic for both the boys and girls Class A state title contests in Portland. Both Hampden and Greely are sending both their boys and girls teams to the games. What a great accomplishment for both of these programs and I am looking forward to be on the PA for two highly competitive state championship games. 
  • American East Women's Basketball Championships - I will be on the PA mic for 4 of the 6 America East games at Cross Insurance Arena March 3-4. I did these games last year and this is a great event. Most all the teams bring pep bands and energetic crowds to provide a lively atmosphere. If you are a fan of basketball I highly encourage you to check out this tournament. College Division 1 Women's basketball has highly skilled players that are fun to watch (and PA for). The UMaine women should will come into this tournament as a the #1 or #2 seed.
  • NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament (hopefully CONFIRMED) - Unfortunately, the Bowdoin women bowed out of the NESCAC conference tournament in the semi-final round to a very strong Tufts team. However, with a record of 24-2 they still have a great chance to host at Bowdoin College the 1st and 2nd round of the NCAA Division III tournament March 2-3. With NCAA Division III, travel costs come into play when selecting host sites. Hopefully the geographic makeup of the tournament teams fall in Bowdoin' favor so they can host. We will find out on Monday. Regardless the Bowdoin women have had an outstanding season so far and will be looking to have a great NCAA tournament.
    • UPDATE - Bowdoin was selected as a host site! The are hosting Husson, Skidmore and FDU-Florham.
Til my next post, you can likely find me on a ski slope or basketball arena in Maine!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

My PA Announcer Journey - In-Game Music

One of the things I have been able to do over the years in my journey as a public address announcer for sporting events is to provide in-game music for some of the events I cover. I mostly do this for the Freeport and Bowdoin football and basketball games. Since it is basketball season I thought I would go through some of my favorite go to songs for hoops.

Like public address announcing, you want the music to be part of the event... but not be THE event. As the PA Announcer, you don't want to be the balding middle aged guy only playing 80's hair metal. So you gotta mix in a bunch of song styles to fit the multiple generations in the stands. All the while you have to make sure the songs that are played are free of swears and generally are appropriate for all audiences. Not as easy as one would first think! The Google Lyrics website gets a lot of hits from me.

So here is a typical basketball game progression for me:

Typically, the players will provide a playlist of songs they want to warm up to. I don't play any of these player provided music lists without the express approval of the athletic director. I do have a mix of modern "clean language" songs (and instrumentals) ready to go, in case I need quickly play something during warm-ups. Some of the songs in my pregame list include 300 Violin Orchestra by Jorge Quintero, Black & Yellow (Instrumental) by Whiz Kalifa, Sail by AWOLNATION and Butterfly Effect by Travis Scott.

1 Minute Left in Warm-ups
At this point, I switch over to my music on my computer and I play Mighty Love by Eric Prydz. I find this an nice upbeat bridge song that builds up momentum over the minute in anticipation of the starting lineups introductions. In fact find a lot of modern dance music good for in-game play.

After the starting lineups are introduced:

It's time for the National Anthem. I have a good instrumental anthem that moves right along. I am not a fan of the long, drawn out anthem.

Opening Tip
After the anthem, it's time to announce a sportsmanship statement then the teams break their huddles to get ready for the opening tip. At this point I have a few songs on my go-to opening tip play list.

Right Now - Van Halen
Good opening song. Not overly fast but sets a good dramatic mood and a nice build up to the opening tip.

Wanna Be Starting Something - Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson is timeless. Great opening lines and beat for the opening tip.

Enter Sandman - Metallica
I use this more for football kickoffs... but if it is a big basketball game that is going to be action packed right from the opening tip, this is a good song to use.

Get Ready - 2 Unlimited
I save this song for the BIG GAME. If the gym is packed for a rivalry or playoff game and the fans are fired up, this song usually gets people clapping to the beat and supporting their teams.

In-Game Music
During breaks in the game (timeouts etc.) I try to match the songs with the mood in the gym. If the game is turning into a blowout, I go to my "Groove" playlists. These are songs that have a nice beat, but are not designed to get the audience fired up. It doesn't make sense to play Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N' Roses if a team is up by 40 points. So some examples of groove songs are Adventure of a Lifetime by Coldplay, Be Right There by Diplo or What is Love by Haddaway.

If it is close, especially in the second half, I break into the "Pump" playlists. I try to mix it up with classics for the gray hairs in the audience (including me) but try to mix in some more modern stuff so the students don't get incredibly annoyed. Think Good Feeling by Flo Rida, Let's Go by Calvin Harris or Rock You Like A Hurricane by Scorpions.

If the crowd is in a good mood during the 3rd & 4th quarter breaks I will play a dance song like the YMCA by The Village People or Macarena by Los Del Rio. This can be a lot of fun if the crowd lets themselves get into the groove a little bit.

I basically try to get most people in the audience tapping their feet, clapping their hands or swaying to the beat at some point in the game. I have a couple of hundred songs in these lists and I am always swapping songs in and out to keep things fresh.

I play mostly in small gyms, and music can be helpful during timeouts especially if the coach is upset and is giving his or her team a good yelling. The music covers over the voices and makes it more comfortable for all involved.

Then when if the game is close in the second half... and maybe the home team is behind by a point or two... at the end of a timeout I go to one of my 'Stadium Pump' playlist favorites to try to get the home crowd a bit more excited and supporting their team. I have about 20 songs to pick from but a couple of my favorites from this list are:

Strike It Up - Black Box
An oldie, but with a great opening and a timeless beat to get the crowd going.

We Will Rock You - Queen
Fans always clap along to this song. They can't help it!

I Like to Move It - Nicola Fasano
This one is a bit more modern and often gets fans clapping along as well.

And if it is a tie game with 10 seconds left, after a timeout Twilight Zone by 2 Unlimited is great as it fires up the crowd even more.

After hopefully a win by the home team, I like to send the fans home to:

Green Onions - Booker T. and the M.G.s
Classic Beat, Classic Song. Good one to be humming as the fans walk to their cars.

And in the case for the Bowdoin Women's Basketball team, after every win I play We Are Family by Sister Sledge. Appropriate song as this Bowdoin team plays as one family... and fortunately I get to play that song a lot!

It's a lot of juggling sometimes. Reading scripts, queuing music and figuring out what appropriate song to play next in a game. But it is a lot of fun!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

My Public Address Announcer Journey

In casual conversations with folks, the topic often comes around to work and hobbies. Outside of my satisfying day job as a Director of a software company called Quantrix, one of the things I like to do is to be a public address announcer for sporting events. When I tell people that I am a public address announcer often the question I get is "You are on TV / Radio?". They are thinking that I am a sports broadcast commentator. At that point my response is "I am the guy you hear over the loudspeaker at a stadium." That usually clears it up most of the time. Then they ask "How did you get started doing that?".

This blog post is the long answer to that question. Being a PA announcer is one of those things that the fans don't always intentionally notice at a game but the PA announcer can be an important part of the game experience. Alternatively, it can be major distraction for the players and fans if done poorly. Here are some words about my journey to be a PA announcer.

Why be a PA Announcer?

It started in high school in the mid 1980's when I played for the Madison (Maine) High School Bulldogs basketball team. For the 1984-85 season I was fortunate
Newspaper photo from a tourney game at the Augusta Civic Center. I am #32.
to make the varsity team as a sophomore. We had a special team that year and played three tournament games at the Augusta Civic Center resulting in a regional championship. We played, and unfortunately lost, the state final in a close game at the historic Bangor Auditorium. I played for coach Jim Bessey. Coach Bessey was an intense coach and I did everything possible in practice to not give him a reason to yell at me! However, I learned a lot of valuable life lessons from Coach Bessey and I am glad I have had that experience.

Since I was buried on the bench my sophomore year, I was able to soak in the sights and sounds of the tournament games while cheering on my teammates. One of the things I noticed at these tournament games was the PA announcer and how it contributed to the arena atmosphere. Hearing the player names over the arena speakers... the roar of the crowd... the whole tournament arena experience was just really cool to me. Unfortunately my junior and senior year we never made it back down to Augusta so I never got to hear over the arena public address system:

"Starting at Guard... a 6 foot Senior... #32... Mike Salisbury!" 

However, the memory of that tournament run and experiencing the tournament atmosphere is still quite vivid for me.

Life rolled on. After college, I married my high school sweetheart and our two wonderful boys came into our lives. I would make occasional trips to the basketball tournament and local basketball games to soak in the sights and sounds of high school sports. I would always notice the PA announcer and wonder... could I do that? It became apparent early-on that my boys did not pick up any basketball genes (not that I had a whole bunch to give them) but the whole family developed a love for alpine skiing. Thus, I started up this ski blog to journal our adventures together and more recently, added a section to my blog titled Maine Sports to capture some other experiences.

The Beginning

In 2009 my dad passed away. He was a great man and was a fan of anything I or my family did. He was relatively young when he died of cancer. After he died, I thought to myself that my time on this earth is short and you need to scratch the itches while you can. Doing stadium public address announcing was just one of those itches for me.

Our hometown high school in Freeport, Maine was starting up a first year varsity football program. I sent a note to the football booster president that read:

"This may already be taken care of, but just wanted to check if you know who is going to be a PA announcer for the home Varsity football games this fall. I would have an interest in doing this if the football club is looking for someone. Thanks! -Mike"

Thankfully, I got an enthusiastic yes and I started to scratch that itch. Being a young football
program, wins were few and far between and I likely made a lot of mistakes on the microphone. However, going into it I had this rule in mind about how I was going to do PA announcing.

Doing PA for a Freeport HS Football Game
The PA announcers job is to shine the spotlight on the players on the field and keep the fans informed and engaged in the game action... And pronounce the player names correctly!

The game is not about me! When I leave a game I want people to think about the game itself. They should be reflecting on the thrilling plays, their son / daughter's / favorite player's effort and performance in the game and the excitement of the competition. If they are thinking about me, the PA announcer, after a game that is probably not a good thing. A good PA will fit into the flow of the game and be a natural part of the event. A good PA always checks name pronunciation's before games and does their best to get it right. A bad PA that yells, talks too much, fumbles excessively over names or is an overt cheerleader for the home team will stick out like sore thumb and detract from the game experience for all involved.

So I honed my craft with Freeport football and Freeport's Athletic Administrator Craig Sickles started having me do PA announcing for the basketball games as well. I started getting the hang of changing the inflection of my voice when the home team did something good, but always showing respect for the opponents. I stumbled over some tough names (and still do sometimes) but always checked pronunciations with coaches and did my best to get them right. I was starting to get pretty good and received a lot of positive compliments. I began to wonder if I could "move up" to bigger events. In order to do that I knew I needed to get more experience.

Bowdoin College

So I started to knock on some doors to see if I could do PA announcing for some different teams. One of these doors I knocked on was Bowdoin College. Via email and networking I started to make some contacts with the athletic administration at Bowdoin and my name was passed around to the appropriate people. Then in the summer of 2011, I got an email from Bowdoin's sports information director Jim Caton that said:

I'd like to gauge your interest in doing public address for our home football games this fall... we're beginning to 'raise our game' as far as game operations are concerned with football and I'd be interested in seeing if you'd like to give it a shot this autumn. 

I was in! Bowdoin football is one oldest programs around. The program started in 1889 and they play their games in a very historic setting at Whittier Field. I remember well my opening welcome to the fans over the PA system at my first game. I said the conference name as individual letters N-E-S-C-A-C instead of one word NESCAC. Jim was kind enough to gently correct me and I was off and running into a great partnership with Bowdoin and with Jim. Above is a recording of some in-game PA for Bowdoin Football.

I found the college football game fascinating. Even at Division III, these players are fast, strong and very athletic. These are former stars from their high school coming together to play on Saturday afternoons for their college team. It was my first experience to getting pre and in-game information from a sports information director, being prompted for in-game reads and interfacing with webcast game production hosts. A very professional production! My youngest son was able to spot for me so it was great to share that experience with him as well. Seeing the charcoal smoke rising from the tailgating lots filled to the brim with fans and experiencing the roar of the crowd during a big Colby vs. Bowdoin rivalry game was (and still is) a thrill to be part of.

Best seat in the house... Morrell Gym at Bowdoin College
I started to inquire with Jim if I could PA the Bowdoin basketball games, as basketball is really my first love for PA announcing. I had to wait a couple of season's as they already had an announcer but I was able to fill-in a couple of times. I was then offered the opportunity the main PA announcer for basketball in 2015 which I gladly accepted.

Basketball is a sport where as the PA announcer, you get the best seat at the house right at center court. You literally feel the energy of the game as they players run by, sense the anticipation of the substitutes waiting to check in and the hear the intensity of the coaches as they instruct their teams and argue with the officials. And like I experienced in college football, the college basketball game has a level of intensity and athleticism that is thrilling to be part of. I have been fortunate to be able to be the PA Announcer for NESCAC playoff and NCAA tournament basketball games that Bowdoin has hosted.

Being the PA announcer for the Bowdoin women's basketball program is especially rewarding for me. For one, they are consistently one of the best Division III basketball programs in the country. Secondly, their coach Adrienne Shibles is someone I have known since my childhood. Adrienne's mother and my mother were roommates and close friends at UMaine and our families often spent time together when I was growing up. I have fond memories of shooting baskets with Adrienne and her brother in their driveway and hitting baseballs over their chicken barn for home runs. Additionally, the Shibles family were very supportive of my family when my parents struggled with health issues. So it is gratifying for me to give back to Adrienne and her parents in a small way through my participation in her teams games as the PA announcer. This is a video of me doing the starting lineups for a Bowdoin Women's basketball game.

So while I love doing Bowdoin events, I still find time to do as many Freeport High School football and basketball games as possible. I don't want to forget where my roots are, and I enjoy helping the game experience for the fans and the student-athletes on the floor representing my home town.

The Journey to a Championship

Getting a couple of season's under my belt at Bowdoin really started to open some doors for me in the Maine PA announcer scene. I started doing PA for the Maine Sabers, a local semi-pro football team. I started knocking on the door of the Maine Principal's Association (MPA) which conducts the high school sports state championships. After a few knocks I was invited to do PA for a MPA State Field Hockey Championship which was a fun experience. I PA'd the Western Maine Conference Cheering championships which was immensely rewarding. Those cheerleading teams bring tremendous energy to the gym! Other local high schools started calling me to do fill-in's for football when their regular PA person could not make a game. My name was starting to get out there in the Maine PA circles. 

Still, I had a strong desire to do PA for the MPA Maine High School basketball tournament. I knocked on the door from time to time but all the PA spots were full. I was finding being a PA announcer for a state basketball tournament is a bit of a "lifetime appointment" so to speak. Then in the fall of 2016, I figured out the name of the site director for the basketball tournament in Portland. I emailed him directly asking about availability to PA the tournament and he responded that he would get back to me after an educational conference he was participating in concluded. I happened to know that Freeport's athletic adminstrator Craig Sickles was at that same conference. I quickly contacted Craig and he put in a good word for me. Luck be had there was an opening and soon after, I got an official invite to be part of the PA announcer team for the MPA basketball tournament. 

On February 12, 2016, I took a deep breath... tried to settle my nerves... and announced into the microphone:

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Portland Exposition Building for the 2016 Maine High School Invitational Basketball Tournament..."

It was a "complete the circle" moment for me and a very satisfying feeling. Later in the tournament, I was able to PA the Boys Class A Regional Basketball Final at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. It was a most rewarding experience!

What's Next

In January, 2017, I was invited to be the PA announcer at a Bowdoin Women's hockey game at Fenway Park in Boston. What a thrill to hear my voice bouncing around this historic venue as seen in the video below! I also PA'd my first MPA high school football state championship in the fall of 2017 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. In March, 2017, I was the PA announcer for the America East Conference Division I Women's basketball tournament in Portland and plan to do this event again in 2018. I continue to do PA for the MPA high school state basketball tournament in Portland. Of course Freeport and Bowdoin football and basketball are still mainstays on my schedule. Throughout all this I have enjoyed getting to know other PA announcers in Maine in-person and throughout the country via social media.

I am pretty happy doing what I am currently doing. I sometimes dream about being the PA announcer for the Celtics, or an NCAA Division I "March Madness" basketball tournament game or maybe even an NFL team. To get exposure for those opportunities I would have to move to a city. I love living in Maine with my family and enjoying the quality of life here. Moving to a city just does not appeal to me. I think I have a good sounding voice, but I don't have the 'big arena quality' voice some of those big time PA announcers have. PA announcing is a passion of mine but it would be difficult to make it a career. Most all of the PA's I know, even the ones I read about for professional teams, work a day job. Fortunately my day job gives me the flexibility to do PA announcing, and I am able to use the money I earn from PA announcing to pay for playing golf during the Maine summers. 

I ran into my high school basketball coach Jim Bessey at a game at Bowdoin in December, 2017. He is now an assistant coach at the University of Maine at Farmington and I had not seen him in over 25 years. After the game was over I re-introduced myself and we exchanged pleasantries. I told him I was the PA announcer for the game his team just played in and he said "I don't remember you having such a good voice Mike". I told him I was just the quiet kid at the end of his bench. Jim then told me "Yes that is right. You were buried on my bench!". I am surprised Coach Bessey didn't make me do wind sprints at that point! However, It was nice to receive a compliment from him on my PA abilities. He is not an easy man to impress.

Each of us has a passion. Some can turn those passions into a career. When that is not really possible, we have to fulfill and fit in our passions into our lives in the best way we know how. I am glad I am able to fulfill one of my passions through helping others enjoy participating in and watching sporting events in Maine. I will keep scratching that itch as long as I can!

Monday, January 8, 2018

New Blog Section for Maine Sports

I have added a new blog section titled Maine Sports. For those that follow my twitter feed, you have seen a lot of tweets around Maine high school and college sports, my public address announcing
Doing my "PA Thing" at Bowdoin College
"hobby" as well as skiing in Maine.

So I changed my twitter handle to @MaineSportsFam to more accurately reflect what I am tweeting about. I mostly tweet about:

  • Skiing in Maine - we are still skiing and love to ski in Maine! That's won't change!
  • Public Address Announcing - I am the public address announcer for the football and basketball programs at Bowdoin College and Freeport High School. I have also PA'd for a variety of other college and high school events in Maine.
  • Maine Weather - I recently bought a new weather station and love to tweet out weather temps and rainfall amounts.
  • Maine Sports - I am a big fan of Bowdoin College and Freeport High School athletic programs, but also of sports in general in Maine. Doing PA for state high school Football and Basketball state championships is a thrill and I enjoy following a variety of sporting events in Maine.
  • Iowa Hawkeyes - My dad is an alum and I am forever a Hawkeye fan. Not exactly a Maine thing but whatever. :-)
  • Golfing, Fishing, Hiking etc: - Enjoying these things with my family all that Maine has to offer! I have a few historical blog posts on these topics already which I have tagged for this Maine Sports section.
Some of these tweets may inspire blog posts as time allows. This blog will still be called A Family Skiing in Maine but I decided to add this new Maine Sports section on the blog in hopes I will be inspired to update the blog a bit more often.

So stay tuned, follow me on Twitter and Instagram. My Facebook page will stay ski-focused as we visit ski mountains in Maine. Get out an enjoy all that Maine has to offer!

-Mike Salisbury
@MaineSportsFam "Old Man"

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Isaac Salisbury of Maine Ski Family takes a trip to Sunday River on 11/16/17

Isaac Here! No this is not Mike this time on the blog.

I took the day off and made the trip from Thomas College to Sunday River to get some more early
season turns on the mountain. Ask my family, they think i’m crazy. I think that too. But there’s nothing like some buttery turns and some rail slides on a weekday.

Conditions were good in the morning with a fresh half inch of snow falling. This made the groomers decent for November skiing. It was Frozen Granular, but my Volkl Kinks held up marvelously. As the day went on the snow changed to sleet and freezing rain, then to all rain at the base. I tried to get the GoPro fired up for at least one run, but the battery was not charged.

The Terrain Park crew hooked us up with some stellar features for the upcoming weekend that I got to test out before the good park skiers got to it. It is approved by me!

Overall it was a great day trip to cure my skiing fever. See you on the slopes!

-Isaac (Boy #1)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

2017-18 Maine Ski Season Off and Running!

Sugarloaf Opening Day - Tote Road Trail
Photo Credit Sarah Sindo /
After an unbelievably warm September & October it appears November is back to a more typical weather pattern and the big Maine mountains are making snow and opening lifts & terrain. Both Sugarloaf and Sunday River got their lifts spinning last weekend and are off to a good start. Some of our favorite smaller hills like Lost Valley, Shawnee Peak, Mt. Abram, Black Mountain of Maine, Big Rock and others are testing snow guns and making preparations to open later on this winter. The @MaineSkiFamily crew are are utilizing Boyne Silver, Millennial and College season passes again this year. We will get a bunch of ski-days in at Sugarloaf, but on our blacked-out days we will be sure to visit some of the smaller hills we love to visit each year.

Ski swap season is in full-swing. There are still swaps left to go but they wrap up by early December. Check out my 2017 ski-swap page for all the details on swaps near you. Ski-swaps are my go to place for extra ski poles to get me through the ski season... as I am bound to break one or two.

The Ski Maine Association is holding a 2017 ski season launch party this Thursday, November 16 in Portland at the US Custom House Building. The event runs from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm. Shipyard Brewing Company will offer samples of some of their best beers, a chance to meet with your favorite Maine ski area and a silent auction with fantastic prizes. Should be a fun time with the Portland Maine Parks, Recreation & Facilities Department Payson Park Snowmaking Fund benefiting from the $25 per person admission.

One of my favorite on-mountain volunteer groups out there is the Angry Beavers of Black Mountain Maine. This group is charged with the maintenance and creation of the gladed terrain at Black. This has turned this fun trail cruiser mountain into a great all day excursion for skiers of all abilities. There are some fantastic glades here and the Angry Beaver crew does an awesome job providing this terrain for the mountain guests. I am looking forward to checking out the new East Bowl glade this winter! I highly encourage you to visit Black. Great lodge, friendly people and great skiing.

Saddleback Maine view from Saddleback Lake
Photo Credit: Kyle Haley Photography
And of-course there is the on-going ownership situation at Saddleback. Back in June, 2017 the Majella Group entered into an agreement to purchase Saddleback and get the mountain ready to open again. I advised at the time in a blog post that this is going to take time and we will have to be patient. I appear to be right on both fronts. The deal has not closed yet, and any skiing that happens this year will be very limited. It appears significant work is being done on-mountain and off and we are just going to have to see how this all shakes out. Unless we have a few spare million dollars hanging around that we don't know what to do with... all any of us can really do is to be supportive as possible and hope for the best. I really do hope this turns out positively for the current and future owners, the employees, the condo owners, the Rangeley area businesses and the skiers that would love to call Saddleback home again. Keep an eye on the Saddleback Facebook page for announcements and new developments.

It's a great time of year! Ski season is upon us! Get out there and enjoy all that the Maine mountains have to offer.